Rock Artists That Released An Album Exactly 50 Years Apart
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Rock ‘n’ roll’s resilience is on full display as 15 legendary rock stars defy the skeptics by releasing studio albums both in the bygone era of 1973 and the contemporary soundscape of 2023.
The timeline of these prolific musicians stretches beyond the album releases, with many having already established themselves through live performances before their 1973 debuts. The trajectory of these artists has seen significant transformations over the five decades between their 1973 and 2023 albums.
The list features intriguing pairings of solo artists and their erstwhile bands. These enduring rock luminaries not only symbolize the evolution of music but also underscore the timeless spirit that continues to resonate with audiences across generations.
15 Icons of Rock: Albums Released in 1973 and 2023
Doubters claimed rock and roll had a short shelf life. These 15 musicians are here to debunk that notion.
The Rolling Stones: Goats Head Soup/Hackney Diamonds
Prepare for a mind-blowing journey from Goats Head Soup to Hackney Diamonds. Released 50 years apart, Soup, the band’s 11th studio album, marked a notable era, albeit a drop in quality from previous classics. Fast forward to 2023, motivated by the loss of drummer Charlie Watts, the Stones broke an 18-year silence with Hackney Diamonds, hailed as their best original-material release since 1981’s Tattoo You. A five-decade gap showcasing the enduring impact of the legendary Mick Taylor era.
Iggy Pop and the Stooges: Raw Power/Iggy Pop: Every Loser
Following the Stooges’ breakup in 1971, Iggy Pop, with assistance from David Bowie, ventured into solo territory, pulling in two-thirds of his former band for 1973’s Raw Power. Although a proto-punk masterpiece, the album faced commercial challenges. Fast forward 50 years through numerous comebacks, Pop’s late-career revival hit another high with the star-studded Every Loser in 2023, showcasing the enduring spirit of a rock legend.
Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon/Roger Waters: The Dark Side of the Moon Redux
Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon set a standard in 1973 with its blend of concise yet experimental songs, selling 45 million copies globally and dominating the charts for 724 weeks. Five decades later, Roger Waters reimagined the masterpiece as The Dark Side of the Moon Redux, infusing it with extended spoken word segments, adding a fresh perspective to the iconic album. Waters’ solo venture brought a new dimension to the timeless work of his legendary former band.
Yes: Tales from Topographic Oceans/Mirror to the Sky
Yes may have pushed the limits of progressive rock excess too far with 1973’s Tales from Topographic Oceans, a double album consisting of four “movements” that are at least 18 minutes long each. Keyboardist Rick Wakeman didn’t enjoy the improvisation-based approach the group used to recording the album and departed Yes (for the first of five times) before they recorded their next album. Drummer Alan White’s 2022 death left guitarist Steve Howe as the only Tales-era band member to appear on Yes’ 23rd studio album, 2023’s Mirror to the Sky.
Alice Cooper (band), Billion Dollar Babies and Muscle of Love/ Alice Cooper (solo), Road
The original Alice Cooper band concluded their tenure with a productive 1973, delivering the masterful Billion Dollar Babies in March, featuring classics like “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “Elected.” However, internal conflicts arose during the recording of the more muddled Muscle of Love in November, leading to the band’s breakup in early 1974. In 2023, lead singer Alice Cooper, now a solo artist, released Road, his 22nd solo album, breaking recent tradition by recording with his longtime touring band for a thematic collection of songs about their experiences on the road.
Aerosmith, Aerosmith/Joe Perry, Sweetzerland Manifesto MKII
Aerosmith’s self-titled 1973 debut, featuring the iconic power ballad “Dream On,” marked the band’s confident declaration of their impressive abilities and ambitions. Over the next four decades, Aerosmith solidified their position as arguably the most important American classic rock band. While the band hasn’t released a new studio album since 2012, guitarist Joe Perry remained active, collaborating with Alice Cooper in the Hollywood Vampires and releasing his solo album, Sweetzerland Manifesto MKII, in 2023, adding six largely excellent new songs to four previously released tracks from his last solo effort five years earlier.
Paul Simon: There Goes Rhymin’ Simon/Seven Psalms
Paul Simon’s second post-Simon & Garfunkel solo album, 1973’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, showcased his successful exploration of a diverse musical range, featuring hits like “Kodachrome” and “Loves Me Like a Rock.” Despite a five-year retirement from touring, Simon made an unexpected return in 2023 with Seven Psalms, an unconventional, entirely acoustic seven-part, 33-minute song cycle inspired by the Book of Psalms. Recorded at various studios on both sides of the Atlantic, the album represents Simon’s enduring ability to innovate and experiment with his musical craft.
Jethro Tull: A Passion Play/RokFlote
Jethro Tull’s sixth studio album, A Passion Play, faced a challenging birth as the band attempted to follow up on the successes of Aqualung and Thick as a Brick. Shelving three-fourths of a concept double album, they started anew, resulting in a divisive but chart-topping record. In 2023, with frontman Ian Anderson as the sole founding member, Jethro Tull continued their resurgence from a two-decade studio hiatus with RokFlote, drawing inspiration from Norse mythology, marking their second album in as many years.
Genesis, Selling England by the Pound/Peter Gabriel, I/O
Genesis refined their approach with their fifth studio album, Selling England by the Pound, offering a loosely connected group of songs addressing the Americanization of English culture. After delving into deeper territory with 1974’s critically acclaimed The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, singer Peter Gabriel departed Genesis to pursue a solo career. In 2023, he returned with I/O, his first collection of new original material in over two decades, releasing a new track from the album every full moon in his typically unconventional fashion.
Cat Stevens, Foreigner/Yusef/Cat Stevens, King of a Land
Cat Stevens deliberately departed from his winning formula on 1973’s Foreigner, opting for self-written and self-produced songs inspired by his love of soul and R&B instead of the folk-rock sounds of his hit albums. After converting to Islam five years later and adopting the name Yusef Islam, he largely abandoned his musical career for over two decades. His return in 2006 marked a renewed phase, releasing six albums since then, with the most recent being 2023’s King of a Land, the third to be credited to both his current and former names.
Rick Springfield: Comic Book Heroes/Automatic
Rick Springfield’s extensive career often gets overlooked, dating back to his first record with the band Zoot in 1970. His second solo effort, Comic Book Heroes, emerged in 1973, coinciding with the formation of AC/DC and Journey. Although it initially fell short of the Top 50 in Australia, Springfield’s journey led to global music and TV stardom in the early ’80s, and he remains active in both realms. In 2023, his album Automatic sees him revisiting the sound of his best-selling work, aiming for “solid three-minute tunes with the biggest hooks I could come up with.”
Free, Heartbreaker/Paul Rodgers, Midnight Rose
Free’s run culminated with 1973’s Heartbreaker, marked by bassist Andy Fraser’s departure and guitarist Paul Kossoff’s escalating addiction issues, leaving singer Paul Rodgers to shoulder much of the songwriting. Despite the success of the album and its single “Wishing Well,” irreparable fractures led to the band’s dissolution. Following a seven-year health battle and a series of strokes, Rodgers made a comeback in 2023 with Midnight Rose, his first solo album in over two decades.
Jimmy Buffett: A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean/Equal Strain on All Parts
Jimmy Buffett’s most famous song, “Why Don’t We Get Drunk (and Screw),” initially released as a B-side, almost missed a spot on A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean. The parody of a country love song became a jukebox hit, securing a place on both the album and Buffett’s concert set lists. Before his passing in September 2023, Buffett completed his 32nd and final studio album, Equal Strain on All Parts, featuring a guest appearance from his friend Paul McCartney.
Van Morrison: Hard Nose the Highway/Moving on Skiffle and Accentuate the Positive
Van Morrison, nearing a sixty-year album recording career since his debut with Them in 1965, released his seventh solo album, Hard Nose the Highway, in 1973, featuring the Top 40 hit “Warm Love.” Originally intended as a double album, most of the shelved songs remained in the vault until the 1989 compilation The Philosopher’s Stone. In 2023, the prolific singer-songwriter accelerated his pace, releasing his 44th and 45th studio titles as double albums — Moving On Skiffle, exploring skiffle music, and Accentuate the Positive, featuring covers of early rock classics like “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and “Blueberry Hill.”
Foghat: Foghat/Sonic Mojo
Years before Peter Gabriel conceived the idea, Foghat opted for self-titled efforts for both their first and second albums. Fans affectionately dubbed their 1973 sophomore release “Rock ‘n’ Roll” due to the vibrant depiction of rock and roll on the cover art. While the album’s cover of the blues standard “I Feel So Bad” didn’t make as significant an impact as the previous album’s “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” the band demonstrated clear upward momentum. Fast forward 50 years, with drummer Roger Earl as the sole remaining founding member, the group marked their return with their first studio album in seven years, titled Sonic Mojo.